REVIEW - Umbrella Assassins - 'King Of Fruit Vol 2' (EP - German Shepherd Records)
I've recently bought the remastered deluxe version of Supergrass' 'In It For The Money' and whilst reviewing the latest release from one of Haverhill's finest here - Umbrella Assassins' King Of Fruit Volume 2' - the similarities between the two bands struck me. Both contain three very amiable gents who you can't help liking as a band and as individuals, both bands contain a certain amount of facial hair(!), over the course of a number of years both combos released (and in UA's case are still releasing) consistently enjoyable music and as with Supergrass, Umbrella Assassins have a lot more about them than would possibly appear at first sight.
'King Of Fruit Vol 2' is Umbrella Assassins' companion piece to 'King Of Fruit Vol 1' (released late last year) and while 'Vol 2' still contains lashings of the band's DIY shed punk sound, complete with Steve Church's fuzzy (mostly) and insistent guitar-work, Andrew 'Bunge' Plumb's rumbling bass and Garry Mckervill's rolling drums, there's also a slightly different tone to two of the three tracks on this new EP.
It's normal UA business as usual on opening 'Trophic Cascade', with a few bars taken from a live gig superseded by a ferocious riff, Steve's (at times) almost primeval vocals and a catchy 'I Don't Wanna Bring You Down...' chorus replete with a dual vocal attack from Steve and Bunge (always a great thing to hear on UA records and at gigs). It's 4:35 of what Umbrella Assassins do best - scuzzy indie punk of high intensity. Middle track, 'Missed The Bus' changes the scenario somewhat with Steve's chiming arpeggiated guitar lines leading into a jaunty tune that almost smacks of pop music(!) and possesses another impossibly catchy chorus of 'C'Mon Honey, let's spend all the money yeah, and get out of here'! As if to show the guys have 'hidden influences' they're not telling us about, EP closer 'Up In The Early Morning' comes over like a lost Neil Young & Crazy Horse demo from the 70s complete with almost laid-back California vibes and an engaging keyboard line from Garry that darts in and out of the track. It's a fine, loping track that may surprise listeners expecting more raucous shed punk.
'King Of Fruit Vol 2' is the more chilled, considered brother to the rowdier 'Vol 1' and between them the two EPs show off all Umbrella Assassins' smarts, strengths and eclecticism. Circumstances (certainly over the last year or so) dictate that they record at their own home 'Tiny Eyes' studio with its limitations that that can bring (just sometimes it would be nice to hear the vocals a little higher in the mix) and it would be great to hear what Umbrella Assassins could do with a 'Supergrass like budget'. Until then though, 'King Of Fruit Vol 1 & 2' are more than 'Alright'!
'King Of Fruit Vol 2' is out now on German Shepherd Records and is available on the band's Bandcamp page - www.umbrellaassassins.bandcamp.com and other major digital sites.